The Human Being (and Becoming)

Human life is engaged in a continual process of mapping and modeling the external universe. From the immediate level of sensation to more abstract forms of emotional and cognitive mapping, the human organism builds a web of inner experience which forms the basis for the construction/perception of “reality.” This act of learning forms the genetic, neural, linguistic, and social programing by which individual and collective subjectivity is constructed. The objective perception of the real which is not fully accessible to human subjective perception is something which we can strive for, but we are never finally free of the limitations of the subjective position from which any one of us experiences this real as our “reality”. Further, this reality – or subjectivity or inner experience -forms a world of its own which – while it may be unconscious – is not only a part of the real but perhaps is more determinant in our lives than the conscious or objective experience of the real.

Theories in philosophy and science are simply more abstract higher-level models of reality akin to our neuro-semantic mappings. They are similiar to cultural, artistic, and religious stories in that their modeling includes not only objective process but the organized gestalt of subjective content which endows the model with meaning in inner experience. If we move to a higher level of modeling by metamodeling we can understand how various theories of human life have mapped reality. The transversal linking of various theories or models allows us to create clearer maps about process and to transcend the differences resulting from content which supply meaning to inner subjectivity and which organize theories, disciplines, and practices like religious belief systems. At the same time however we must not seek to ignore meaning in subjectivity, but to explore it in all its irreducible multiplicity as the essential end of all human existence. Practical means of survival as well as communication across disparate forms of individual and collective subjectivity depend on the ability to transcend subjective inner experience and to perceive from the point of view of the other in the act of finding a common transversal map between maps. Schizoanalytic metamodeling engages this transversal process of communication by which two or more different perspectives of the real – two or more subjectivities or realities – are transcended by moving to the next higher logical level in a nested hierachy of organization.

Schizoanalysis was one of the names Felix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze (1972, 1980) gave to their life-long project of reinventing psychoanalysis and therapeutic practice and extending it into the material and social field. By giving a name to this practice and outlining its essence they began to gather together the work of various analysts, artists, philosophers, and scientists who – though isolated – were already engaged in such a project of transforming human experience and whose history has hardly begun to be told.

A line stretches from Nietzsche to Deleuze and Guattari which sidesteps a century of impoverished work in the field of psychology, psychotherapy, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and related disciplines. Nietzsche was already a master clinician/physician of the bio-psycho-social whom Freud stated had known more about himself than any single human being, and yet whom he admitted he could not read. The work of Deleuze and Guattari provides an answer to Nietzsche’s vision of the therapeutic enfolded into everyday practice. The conclusion of their last book What Is Philosophy – “From Chaos to the Brain” – offers a model of the human biopsychic organism as a nexus continually organizing energy-matter into somatic-emotional-cognitive events which could be called “sovereign states”. Perhaps the only weakness in their approach is the over-reliance on the brain as opposed to the complex embodiment of subjectivity which involves multiple psychobiological flows of the body encluding endocrine, immune, meridian, and other energetic-information systems.

Considering the human organism caught in this flux, the idea of ego or consciousness must be seen as relative, and work in psychoanalysis, hypnosis, psychopharmacology, and phenomenology has only sketched out how transference and trance are ubiquitous in everyday life and unresolvable. Existing models of therapy are antiquated. Schizoanalytic practices of speculative and concrete cartography borrow from all of these models – but also from art and literature – in developing ways to seize hold of and communicate with expressive moments and sovereign states of existence. The complexity of schizoanalytic metamodeling allows it to grasp the volatile and chaotic nature of human subjectivity where simplistic models which seek to define it fall short. It differs profoundly from current theories and practices of the psyche in several ways:

1. Schizoanalysis develops its modeling of the human psyche on those who worked intimately with “psychotic” or “schizophrenic” experience such as Reich, Laing, Lacan, and Guattari – who saw in the painful condition of these people the truth of their experience. The shaman and mystic prepare to enter such states of mystical ecstasy and the reorganization of normal perception for personal, cultural, and therapeutic reasons. The schizophrenic is plunged into such states unwillingly with no choice and no map to guide him.

2. Schizoanalysis replaces scientific-therapeutic paradigms with ethico-aesthetic paradigms within a mental and material ecology. The ultimate aim of schizoanalysis as a practice of life is the human being in continual creation and expression of his essence as an event in time interacting with other such events in the form of human beings, living nature, cultural ideas, social rituals, and machines of creation. It looks not just to therapists but to artists and scientists of all types to remodel psycho-social experience.

3. Schizoanalysis does not focus on the trap but on the escape or reinvention of the possible. Its point of departure is not the past of familial and biological development, but the present moment as it is lived toward the unknown future. Each session, seminar, workshop, perfomance, happening, intervention, project – including the meal and the work of survival becomes the analytic space in which the emotional investment of “transference,” or “desire,” or “love” plays itself out against a background of conscious thought reintegrating the divided experience of psyche and soma.

4. Schizoanalysis tracks the image as it organizes inner experience within the individual isolated from the abstracted social symbolic forms of “morality” and “truth.” The best therapy has offered so far is to restore some form of acceptance of the social symbolic order as an alternative to isolated individual symptoms of “madness” or “disease.” But every symptom is an opportunity – desire knocking at the window seeking to escape its rigid confinement. The imag-inary world of the individual creates a speculative cartograpy of life which frees itself from stagnation and abstraction, yet it longs to be real-ized materially through a concrete cartography of collective action. Artistic creation is the link between the speculative cartography of the imaginary and the concrete cartography of collective action or communication. To speak, to write, to paint is to express the imaginary into the real where it can form the the symbolic truth of the moment in everyday life among a community of those who agree to share for that moment that “truth.” The community of lovers – the community of those who have nothing in common – does not resort to castration before the law but preserves the sovereignty of each moment and the integrity of the story in time of each individual made up of such moments – each community made up of such individuals. The client who speaks in the therapeutic setting and the artist who creates for a community of listeners each invent their symbolic individually and collectively by making concrete or real the imaginary formation of their “drive” or “unconscious.” They produce their desire. They enjoy their symptom.

5. Schizoanalysis operates equally in the individual session, the group workshop, or the institutional project through the “four” essential components of analytic experience. Containment provides the space to dissolve rigidities and reinvent against the fear of losing oneself. Interventions break the patterns which hold imaginary routines in place. The transference engages the desire, attraction, or cathexis which binds living entities together in a common project. And the dialectic of consciousness brings self-reflection into awarenes of how one’s unconscious and chaotic desire persists beyond any attempts to finally “know” it or pin it down.

6. Schizoanalysis is not one more model of the psyche, but a practice of metamodeling the complexity of human experience. As such it does not claim to know the truth about life or to institute a way of thinking, feeling, and living, but offers a practice by which exerience itself is continually reinvented as the expression of each moment of each individual life within the event of humanity.

Theories are linguistic models which trigger semantic and even physical reactions within the one who perceives them. Metamodeling is the art and science of subjectivity in that it models the ways in which inner experience or psyche operates. By juxtaposing and linking various models from various areas including neuroscience, cybernetics, psychobiology, psychophysics, psychoanalysis and ethnology (cultural, religious, artistic, and linguistic practices) a more complete understanding of human subjectivity and its transformation can be formulated. Recent research by Robert Langs (1996) suggests that human communication and the fomulation of linguistic models follow a mathematical pattern whether in the monologic construction of theories and stories or in the dialogic construction of the communicational or therapeutic setting. Human communication follows a pattern of moving back and forth between redundancy and complexity – between the stability of conscious theoretical language and the transformations of unconsciously encoded narrative language. Within a dyad one communicant always moves to rebalance the dialogue according to the language of the other in a pattern that mimics a monologue. In order for the optimum level of communication and transformation to take place in a therapeutic or dialogical setting both participants must be allowed to develop their stories or models of reality fully through sufficient periods of time to experience the fullness of each model without preconceived ways of judging or framing such stories. Similarly in our research, each model – each discourse – must be allowed to develop itself and to be juxtaposed and linked with others in a multiple dialogue or conversation (Blanchot 1969). Rather than trying to fit theoretical and linguistic models into a pre-existing arguments for support, metamodelling of the psyche emerges from the transversal communication of various models in dialogue.

Any organism or event always functions in relation to the general economy or ecology of forces in which it is embedded. An organic or cybernetic approach recognizes the complexity of integrated systems mutually interacting. Therapeutics is not a question of eradicating disease or restoring normality, but a functional pragmatics of ecological balancing which must grasp not only the movement of interacting processes, but the spirit, meaning, and will which drive such processes. All therapeutic practices – whether physical, psychic, or social – must work within the parameters of the the organism itself rather than applying theories based on preconceived concepts and judgements. What George Vithoulkas calls “the fundamental law of cure” is based on this dynamic and cybernetic approach.

Modern concepts of cybernetics demonstrate a fundamental principle which applies to the human organism as well as to other systems: any highly organized system reacts to stress always by producing the best possible response of which it is capable in the moment. In the human being this means that the defense mechanism makes the best possible response to the morbific stimulus given the state of health in the moment and the intensity of the stress. . . .

For any therapy to be effective, it is obvious that the practitioner must cooperate with this process and must not deviate from it at all. Since the defense mechanism is already responding with the best possible response, any deviation from the direction of its action must inevitably be of a lesser degree of effectiveness. This is why therapies which are based upon intellectual theories and partial comprehension of the totality can only inhibit the process of cure, and often produce actual harm to the organism through suppression (Vithoulkas 1980, p. 87-9).

Whether at inorganic, organic, or psychic levels, information consists of the organization of forms between the cycles of redundancy and the differentiation of complexity. Moving too far in either the direction of redundancy or that of complexity leads to entropy – the absence of organization or information and the return to chaos. But the ongoing organizational process described by Felix Guattari (1992) as “chaosmosis” allows systems including human subjectivity or psyche to pass through chaos in the deconstruction of rigid forms and their reconstruction as new forms of organization thus eluding entropy through transformation. Through the process of transformation a memory is kept in the movement from one form to another. Organization is transformation – the patterned refrain of redundancy against difference. The human psyche is a volatile system balanced precariously between order and chaos – stability and change. While it is vulnerable to entropy or death, it is rich with organization, information, and meaning: its subjectivity is deep and complex. Ecstasy forms the horizon of meaning in inner experience whether in the collective subjectivity of cultural rituals described by George Bataille’s (1973) notion of the “sacred” or in the individual subjectivity of personal rituals, beliefs, and symptoms described by Jacques Lacan’s (1966) notion of “jouissance”. Ecstasy, jouissance, and the sacred in their myriad forms lead to a return to disorder which plunges stable – and often stagnant – forms into chaos. Subjective desire and meaning – and the drive to return to immanence in the sovereign moment which denies the delay of gratification – are incompatible with the objective processes of knowledge and the mastery of survival. The ecology of ecstasy allows this return of sacred immanence without it necessarily leading to absolute entropy, chaos, and death, but rather to transformation and reorganization. Where education, religion, therapy, and science today fail to provide this ecology of ecstasy which once was managed by collective cultural rituals, we must introduce a broader understanding of what they seek in the form of psychoanalytic metamodeling, spiritual science, and transdisciplinary practices for the transformation of subjectivity.

The human being is also in a state of becoming. Theories of evolution and adaptation only sketch out a part of the general economy of mutation, change, and transformation which characterizes all complex systems and organisms which live at the border between order and chaos. What unfolds and actualizes itself out of the virtual totality of possibilities sometimes appears immutable from our human subjective perspective, but stability and permanence are only relative. Everything is in a state of flux. Nevertheless, the subjective factors within which we exist affect us as if they were objective parameters. We do exist in a state of being in which quasi-stability “satisfices” to provide us with the order we need to exist – “to be.” It is this tension between order and chaos – between being and becoming – between subject and object – between the tendency to affirm limited beliefs and unique moments above all and the ability to reach across these specific events and communicate – which makes human subjectivity rich, robust, and complex, and gives it its unique sovereign and sacred character.

As opposed to grasping the general economy of integrated systems and the sovereignty of singular events which make up this complex web, contemporary humanity appears to be heading toward an increasingly mechanistic existence dominated by an objectifying perspective which seeks not only to eradicate the subjective sovereignty of the internal horizon of singular forms and replace it with objects devoid of any meaning to be used and consumed, but to install the objectifying organization of our experience of the world into human subjectivity once and for all through the use of modern technology.